Updated: May 20
Responses by SSOA emerging writers to the weekly writing prompt above:
Which genre is safest, life story or fiction?
In both genres, there are safer and more dangerous aspects.
Life story can be safer because less imagination needs to be at play to come up with a story or characters. On the other hand, this genre can surely be less safe when the writer relives painful memories to write a story. Often they need to fill the memory gaps by speaking with people from their past, which can be a regenerating, or potentially retraumatizing experience, depending on the nature of the life experiences.
The distance fiction creates between the writer and the subject and characters, is a safe distance in my opinion. That is, in the sense that there is little or no prior attachment to the fictional characters; while in life story the characters are real, and pre-existing emotions and relationships may colour the tone of the story and the way the characters are portrayed.
Although, if the writer spends long enough with their fictional characters in their own minds, during the writing process - which they are likely to do if they are working on a long form fiction project - they may start to develop attachment for those characters and places. Building fictional worlds can be addictive.
Let there be no illusions - no matter what you write, you will never be safe.
Be it tomorrow or in five years or a hundred, your work will be denigrated if not desecrated by those who think they know better.
There are countless examples, only a few of which I list here: Salman Rushdie; Roald Dahl; Mark Twain; Jordan Peterson; Dr Seuss; J. K. Rowling; Margaret Atwood; Yeonmi Park; Enid Blyton.
I'm afraid that writing should be no different than speech; first in that it should be free, second in that it should not be free of criticism, and third in that much of that criticism will be banal drivel.
Worrying about safety, it seems to me, is a self-fulfilling trap where no matter how much caution is taken it will never be enough.
Instead, I hold in mind this: Write truthfully, and with diligence, and without conceit. That's the only meaningful armour against the arrows shot in words to come.
This SSOA blog showcases the work of emerging writers attending our weekly writers' meetups. You can make contact via ssoa.com.au if you'd like to join us.
Copyright: text - authors credited above; photos - Wix.